History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.
Media elite's extreme fascination with the Jihadist individuals’ personalities hurts the victims of the Boston bombing
by Walid Phares
When the argument was made in The War of Ideas that the U.S. Middle East Studies elite had been causing failures in foreign policy and psychological distress on citizens for providing faulty expertise on the roots of Jihadi terror, some of the book’s projections had not yet been reached. They now have been. A Boston bombing victim Adrianne Haslet-Davis was frustrated by NBC’s repetitive use of the names of the bombers who caused her injury last year. She was participating in Meet the Press to discuss her experience. It turned out that the panel shifted the discussion to the personality of the bomber as if the terror act was a criminal aggression against her personally, causing her to leave the set. The media elite’s fascination with the personality of terrorists has been generated by U.S. academia's assertion that the terror acts are expressions of individual frustrations by the Jihadi perpetrators, not products of their ideology.
Hence the discussion grows about the “private life of Dzohar” instead of the ideology that recruited him into the battlefield. This is a war, not a crime scene, and the Jihadists are members of a movement, not Hollywood stars. Ms. Haslet-Davis is right: she has no personal connection to a "frustrated Dzohar." She is the victim of a Jihadi terrorist. NBC should thus discuss the terror ideology or the fate of victims of this ideology. Creating a link between criminal and victim in a global war serves to shift attention from the threat to national security to unnecessary mental torture of the victim.
NBC’s approach to the homegrown Jihadi menace needs to be corrected and so should the dominant Middle East Studies analysis of the roots of that threat. The victims of Ft. Hood had no connection to Major Hassan; the victims of the Boston bombing had no ties to the Tsarnaiev brothers; and civilians in Detroit had no relation to Abdelmuttalib, the so-called “Christmas Day Bomber.” The actions by terrorists against U.S. citizens, and citizens around the world for that matter, are generated by a conviction by indoctrinated groups and individuals that the Jihadi ideology is right and that killing in its name is legitimate. Unfortunately, the U.S. educational and opinion-generating elite is attempting to create a link between killers and victims rather than the global war waged by the Jihadists. In a sense, directly or indirectly, this trend aims at minimizing the real root cause of the threat. If anything, this might help the terrorists and dis-educate the public.